Remembering The Deepwater Horizon Workers
NEAL CONAN, host:
We may never be able to measure the true cost of this disaster, but we must not overlook the lives lost on the Deepwater Horizon too often mentioned only in passing, and only as a group, or even just a number: 11 men killed in the explosion and fire on April 20th.
Today, we take a little time out to remember 11 people. Karl Kleppinger, a floor hand known as Big Poppa, born in Baton Rouge, moved to Natchez, Mississippi, 38 years old. In the Army, during Desert Storm, he wrote his girlfriend, Tracy, and added a P.S.: Will you marry me? She wrote a letter back and tacked on the last line: By the way, yes. They have a 17-year-old son.
Dale Burkeen moved to the Gulf Coast from outside of Philadelphia. Married, two kids, his friends called him Big D or just Bubb. He was a crane operator. According to the local newspaper, he helped other crew members off the platform after the explosion, but couldn't get off in time to save himself.
Roustabout Shane Roshto was just 22, another man from Baton, Rouge. He wrote two dates on the inside of his hard hat: the date of his marriage to his wife, Natalie, and the birthday of their son, Blaine.
Driller Dewey Revette worked for Transocean for almost 30 years - a quiet man. According to some accounts, he opposed the change of plans on the day of the explosion. He was 48, from Waynesboro originally, and lived in State Line, Mississippi. Survived by his wife, Sherri, and two daughters.
Donald Clark, 49. Don to most everybody, Duck to some. He grew up one of 11 children on his parents' soybean farm. Started in the family business, but went to work on the rigs and became an assistant driller to support his four kids. He and his wife, Sheila, lived in the tiny town of Newellton, Louisiana. When his son asked if he should work on the rigs, too, Don Clark told him it was too dangerous.
Another assistant driller, Stephen Curtis, came from Georgetown, Louisiana, served in the Marine Corps, and followed his father into the business. He loved to hunt and got married wearing formal camo. He leaves his wife, Nancy, and two children. He was 39.
Gordon Jones had a passion for golf and always brought a putter along when he flew out to the rig. And his friends and families say they will never forget what the obituary politely described as a distinctive laugh. He left behind his wife, Michelle, who gave birth to their second son days after the explosion.
Wyatt Kemp, 27, who had just been promoted to assistant driller which changed his schedule to make it easier to see his newborn daughter. His grandmother said he looked forward to the holidays at home this year. That was in Jonesville, Louisiana, where he was a member of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
Fifty-six-year-old Blair Manuel was a mud engineer from Eunice, Louisiana, one of six men working below deck, either in the mud pit or the shaker room nearby when the explosion happened. All those men probably died in that initial blast. He leaves three daughters. He'd plan to remarry July 9th. His passion was football. In high school, he was a two-way lineman for the Eunice High Bobcats, and he had season tickets to LSU football games.
Tool pusher Jason Anderson lived in another tiny town, Midfield, Texas, with his wife, Shelly, and their two kids. On April 20th, he was just a couple of hours away from heading off to be senior tool pusher on another rig. The obituary in the local newspaper reported he never ended a phone call without saying I love you, and never got on the plane for work without an extra hug. He was 35.
And 24-year-old Adam Weise, a tool hand, who drove about 10 hours for each shift from his home in Yorktown, Texas. A star football player in high school, but scared to death of spiders. He gave his old truck to his girlfriend's son because, he said, what every boy needs when he turns 16 is damn truck.
Eleven lives that are part of the price of the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010.
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